Another update from Vanessa! –Lisette
Well, people, I’ve just made history. Nearly the first piece of advice received upon entering the MTC was “Don’t be the reason for another stupid rule at the MTC.” I thought this sage advice and conducted myself accordingly. Shocking, I know. However, exactly 10 days (to the hour!) later, I accomplished it. Another rule was created because of something I did. Victory? I think so. 😀
Here’s the story — my companions and I shared a room with three Spanish Sisters (Hermanas). The two other Mandarin Sisters who came in the day we did shared a room with four Hermanas. We’ve all taken some Spanish and while we adore the Hermanas, this made SYL in Mandarin excruciatingly difficult… though we’re all pretty fluent in Spanish now. 😉 So, when we found out our Heramanas were leaving in a few days, we set about trying to move the two Mandarin Sisters into our room. Pleas to the Branch Presidency only yielded vague and seemingly unknowledgable responses. Naturally, this led to curiousity. On the way back from our X-Ray Adventure into the Oustide World, we stopped by General Services and began asking some questions. Five minutes and a smile later, I had two Key Exchange slips (second only to a Celestial Kingdom Pass here at the MTC 😉 ) and the blessing of The Scheduling Maven to perform the switch once our Hermanas left.
Word travels fast, here, even without ANY technology to speak of. That is one of the great mysteries of God, I’m sure of it. And by the next District Meeting, our District Leader informed us in a round-about way that NO room changes would be allowed unless expressly authorized by the Branch Presidency. Beurocracy is alive and well…. and completely capable of being thwarted. Do not lose hope! On the upside — the Grandfather Law is also alive and well. So, today after we finish emailing home, we’re moving the two Mandarin Sisters into our room. 😀
Speaking of our District — I LOVE them. Word cannot express it, actually. The personalities are so distinct and so complimentary at the same time. I’ll be sending photos of them home soon, no worries. It is quite a challenge to get to know people here, though. You don’t realize how much of what a person thinks of himself is wrapped up in clothing until it’s all taken away from you. A bit shines through in tie choices, skirt and blouse combinations… but not enough. The only thing to rely on then is conversation… and so much of that is limited or already scheduled. This week, though, we’ve taken some liberties with “Language Study” time. It’s definitely showed in our teaching prep (bu hao!) but we’ve learned more about how we work as individuals and it’s allowed us to work so much better as a District.
I’ve gained a testimony of Companionship Inventory this week, more than anything. We’re required to hold it at least once a week and our Branch gave us a suggested bullet list of 9 events that need to happen each time. We surived the first one just fine and the second one was even better — but the difficulty lies in not having time to get to know each other. Any assumptions you could have made based on dress and casual behavior are simply not available. And the ability to discern thought patterns is limited as you are always in the same situations and under the same pressures — class, study, prayer, etc. There’s never a catalyst for a different scenario. Well…. until yesterday. We were preparing to teach our investigator when I corrected Bu Jie Mei’s tones. She snapped back at me. We struggled to find the Spirit in our teaching (just practice scenarios, even!) and for the rest of class. Class ended and I announced the Sisters were going outside for a few minutes. She was resistant the entire way… but we sat down, I said a little prayer, and created an environment where she could finally, comfortably get her grievances aired. We discussed the language ability differences and feelings of isolation openly and honestly, with just a few tears. I was so grateful for Zhiang Jie Mei — her diplomacy and eloquance helped the entire thing from going south quickly. 😀 We came away with action items and Bu Jie Mei was walking on cloud nine the rest of the day. Hen bang!
Oh, ps, today (Tuesday) is P-day. And it is glorious. We have a ridiculously early call time at the Temple, but it’s worth it because we do our hour of personal study and 30 min of email immediately after, then we get to be in P-day clothes until dinner at 5. Scheduling loves Mandarin missionaries! Don’t worry, we’ve already compared schedules with other missions and decided ours is the best. No early gym times, all kinds of mini-P-days throughout the week, and Friday Night, Sunset Volleyball. It’s wonderful!
Anyway… today during personal study I happened upon something in Preach My Gospel that everyone should take a few minutes to do this week. It’s on page 126, at the end of the “Christlike Attributes Section.” It’s basically an inventory of how you feel you’re doing on all the Christlike Attributes, broken down by Attribute, quality, and scripture. It’s excellent! I took it this morning and now have a wonderful schedule over the next few months on what to study during Personal Study and actual strategies on how to improve myself in those areas. Take a look at it and work on strengthening your Christlike Attributes this month!
Lastly — You ban fa! It’s a Mandarin Missionary motto, basically having the sense of “Have a can do attitude!” It couples nicely with a Fireside talk given by the MTC Administrative Director last week about having a “perhaps” mentality. I’ll organize my notes on that and send it via snail mail to my Sister to post on the blog. It was incredibly powerful and reminded us all that there are two ways to measure success as a missionary. Stay tuned! 😀
I love you all and appreciate your prayers and support! I’m in MTC Mailbox #130 and while I’m here, DearElder.com is free and wonderful and will deliver messages from you usually on the same day. Would love to hear from you (especially your addresses so I can write you back!!)
Have faith in Christ and continue steadfastly!
Love, Sister Oler